Chilean president elect Sebastián Piñera who takes office Thursday said the moment has come “to dry tears” and face the emergency in reference to the quake and tsunami follow-up which last Saturday devastated central Chile.
“The moment has come not to forget our dead, our victims and our disappeared, but yes to dry tears and begin with all the force in the world the process of addressing the emergency”, said Piñera who will be receiving the presidential sash from outgoing leader Michelle Bachelet March 11.
A public opinion poll from Adimark shows that 59% of Chileans believe the country will move ahead with the President Piñera administration while 27% are not so convinced and 3% anticipate tough times with the first conservative president in over half a century. Another 11% did no reply or simply did not know.
“The result is showing a more favourable attitude towards the incoming president given his calls for national unity” according to Adimark analysts. The areas were the Piñera administration is expected to have a good performance are law and order (70%) and the rebuilding of homes and public works (63%) tumbled by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake.
A previous poll before the quake said Piñera would play a better role in international affairs (71%) followed by combating crime and delinquency (66%) and expansion of the economy (64%).
As to expectations regarding Piñera’s electoral promises a majority trust he will deliver, among which a special bonus for needy families (82%) and the enrolment of 10.000 new Carabineros (militarized police) (78%). However regarding the creation of a million new jobs received a more cautious support, 57% against 42% who think is highly improbable.
The opinion poll was done in two stages: the first in February and the second in March following the quake, although they did not show major changes or shifts. The first included 1.104 telephone interviews and the second, 1.129 and was limited to the main urban areas. The poll has a plus/minus three percentage points margin of error.
Another surprise move from Piñera was to announce the names of most regional governors and the head of the Tax Office. “We have no time to loose, we must face the consequences of the catastrophe”, he said.
“If before we couldn’t spare a minute, now we can’t spare a second. Our country has always shown an indefatigable capacity to stand up again and I’m sure this time we will come out even stronger”, underlined Piñera. The major catastrophe killed almost 500 people, destroyed half a million homes and left two million people in precarious situation.
Estimates are that rebuilding will cost in the range of 30 billion US dollars or the equivalent of 15% of GDP, and will take the full four years of Piñera’s mandate.
The incoming Conservative president will be taking over from Socialist Michelle Bachelet and the Concertacion ruling coalition that has been in office since the return of democracy in 1990. Piñera defeated the incumbent candidate Eduardo Frei in the January run off.
Piñera has promised as austere inauguration ceremony.